AMHERST (CBS/AP) – Dozen of University of Massachusetts-Amherst students were arrested after state, Amherst and UMass police were called in Saturday to deal with a massive off-campus party called the Blarney Blowout that got out of control.
Four police officers were hurt as they worked to disperse students who were throwing beer cans and bottles at police as large crowds gathered at an off-campus apartment complex, according to Amherst police.
The officers did not require serious medical attention.
Police from the city, university and state troopers in riot gear converged on the crowds around noon.
The Republican in Springfield reported that police marched toward the crowd firing paintball-style guns loaded with pepper spray after students began setting off fireworks.
“They warned them first and said ‘OK, everybody please disperse, this is a direct order.’ And they didn’t, so they moved into the crowd and that’s when things started to happen,” Larry Kelley, a witness, told WBZ-TV’s Paul Burton.
Kelley said thousands of students began drinking early Saturday morning as part of a traditional all-day party before they leave for spring break.
“This is something that was created by the downtown bars in Amherst to grab ahold of the kids before they all left the campus. So it’s supposedly a St. Patrick’s Day celebration,” said Kelley, a UMass graduate.
Most of the people 43 people arrested have been charged with failing to disperse, police said.
“It is extremely disturbing and unsafe. Perhaps one of the worst scenes we have ever had with drunkenness and unruliness,” Amherst Police Capt. Jennifer Gundersen told The Republican. “It is extremely upsetting. It is very dangerous.”
Gundersen said that numerous partygoers suffered injuries.
Umass put out a statement Saturday evening regarding the blowout, stating:
“The University of Massachusetts Amherst today denounced the unruly behavior of participants in the unsanctioned ‘BlarneyBlowout.'”
UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said that the situation had calmed down by early Saturday night.
He said that UMass students who were arrested will have their behavior reviewed under the school’s code of conduct and that sanctions could include suspension or expulsion.
The school did send out an email earlier this week warning students about the consequences for any disruptive behavior and the dangers of underage drinking.
WBZ-TV’s Paul Burton contributed to this report.
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